Music department changes curriculum

Music Department officials said they are looking to add more theory and history courses to the bachelor’s degree program as they get rid of the conservatory-style track and make it less “performance-oriented.” Music officials said they are optimistic a new program will go into effect this fall after four years of planning and development.

The changes will affect all incoming freshmen, who will

enroll in the new curriculum when they arrive at GW. Current students will be able to choose some of the new courses in the curriculum, but will not be required to change their majors to coordinate new requirements.

“It’s important to acknowledge the music of the rest of the world, and that’s one of the things that this curriculum does,” said associate professor of music Karen Ahlquist, who coordinated the final stages of the new curriculum. “We’ll be able to send people out around D.C. to do field research and talk to people and really understand how important music is in so many cultures locally, nationally and internationally.”

The new curriculum adds six credits of free music electives to the music major and requires students to complete independent projects during their senior years. Four unpopular classes will be dropped and seven new classes will be added.

The dropped classes include Harmony, Ear Training III, Composition and Voice Study for the Theater. Classes will be expanded in music history, theory, composition and literature. The department will also have a range of 100-level specialized courses, including a new requirement of ethnomusicology.

After questioning students about the current curriculum and what they would like to see in the future, the department decided the program was due for a revision.

“(The new curriculum) really opens up curricular space for students whose interests are not just western-classical,” Ahlquist said. “It will be more flexible, and we also expect it to be more challenging.”

Despite an increase in class variety, no new faculty members were hired. Professors will teach fewer of the original classes, freeing up time for them to teach new classes.

There are currently six full-time faculty members and about 50 part- time professors in the music department.

“As a faculty member I think (understanding the cultural significance of music) is important because I think in the West there’s still a notion that music is … fun for the feeble-minded. So the idea of showing how many ways it’s respected is something that I’m interested in having the students be able to do,” Ahlquist said.

She also said the department is expecting to attract more music majors or double majors.

“We’d be foolish if we didn’t say that we expect this curriculum to be more attractive,” she said. “I think we’ll get more recognition within the University as well because I think some of the newer things that we’ll be able to do will be more visible.”

Students in the music department said they are looking forward to the changes.

“I like the music department,” sophomore music student Jeff Weber said. “Band is fun, but I’m excited for the changes.”

Those interested in finding out more about the new curriculum can attend an information session on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Phillips Hall room B120.

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